For the second straight year the Redskins are going to undergo some early–season shuffling in the interior of their offensive line.
Last year left guard Shawn Lauvao was sidelined with an ankle injury after Week 3 and was replaced by Spencer Long. Then after Week 5 center Kory Lichtensteiger went out with a shoulder and neck problem and Josh LeRibeus took his place.
Now Lauvao and Lichtensteiger are out again. Lauvao is week to week with what Jay Gruden described as a “moderate” ankle sprain and Lichtensteiger is on the shelf for at least eight weeks as he went on injured reserve yesterday with a calf strain.
They went with a makeshift lineup for the second half of the Giants game, a lineup that had Trent Williams playing guard for the first time ever. But they have signed some reinforcements and now it will be up to Gruden and offensive line coach Bill Callahan to sort out who will play where against the Browns this week and how they will align them going forward.
The Redskins signed veteran center John Sullivan on Tuesday. Getting him ready to play on Sunday against Cleveland would be a tall task. In addition to learning the plays and blocking schemes, the line calls are very intricate and they take some time to master. Sullivan was out all of last year with back problems so there has to be some rust. However, he was in training camp for the Vikings and he did play some in the preseason before Minnesota released him.
They also moved Vinston Painter from the practice squad to the active roster. The Redskins are his fifth organization since the Broncos drafted him in the sixth round in 2013. He’s a backup for right now but that could change in the weeks ahead.
Arie Kouandjio, who has one NFL snap on his resume, could get his first start since coming to the Redskins in the fourth round of the 2015 draft. It may depend on whether or not Sullivan can pass a crash course on playing center over the next 72 hours or so.
If Sullivan can’t go, they start Long at center, Kouandjio at left guard, and Williams at left tackle. If Sullivan is ready he could go a center with Long at left guard.
They do have the option of putting Williams at left guard again and having Ty Nsekhe fill in at left tackle. But Williams is not getting paid $10.6 million to be a backup guard; he’s one of the best players in the league at one of the most important positions on the offense. If they can’t coach up Kouandjio to start a game they should reconsider both their personnel and their coaching choices.
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